Steamboat Springs Ten-year-old Genna Bradley recently competed in a Level 7 invitational and state qualifying gymnastics meet in Grand Junction, representing the first Steamboat Gymnastics Center student to reach such a high level.
Bradley was one of the smaller girls at the meet, but coach Deirdre Bernard said it was an important step in her progression as a gymnast.
"We use this meet more for the experience so she can have a year to digest that she belongs there," Bernard said. "I needed her to know that she belonged. She obviously did. She got 10th."
Bradley posted scores of 6.55 on balance beam, 8.4 on floor, 8.1 on vault and 7.35 on parallel bars for an all-around score of 30.4. A 34 was needed to qualify for the state meet, but Bradley's focus wasn't so much on making the state meet as gaining confidence.
"At first, we wanted to get a 34 and then we decided to just have fun and not worry about the scores," Bradley said.
She left satisfied with her first meet and will have one year before another Level 7 meet takes place in Colorado to refine her routines and perfect her performance and presentation.
"Hopefully, next year we'll have a team," Bradley said.
At this point in the season, Bernard said, Bradley was the only one ready to make the move up to Level 7 from Level 6 because of injuries that have prevented other gymnasts from gaining the experience to advance.
Difficulty in routines and required elements is what separates the levels. Age sometimes plays a factor but not in every case, Bernard said.
Bradley spends three days a week in the gym for a total of nine hours of concentrated training. Of course, that doesn't count the time she jumps off the couch. Her sleigh bed, unfortunately, doesn't make for ideal jumping conditions, Bradley said.
Currently, she is perfecting her back walkover to back handspring on the balance beam, as well as a full layout for her floor routine, both elements new to Level 7.
Steamboat residents will have an opportunity to catch Bradley and many of the other gymnasts enrolled at the Steamboat Gymnastics Center on March 22 when the center puts on its exhibition showcase.
All proceeds benefit the boys and girls teams, and all levels doing different forms of gymnastics will be performing for the audience.
Tickets can be purchased in advance from a gymnast or the night of the exhibition. Doors open at 6:45 p.m. and the showcase is scheduled to start shortly after 7 p.m.